Retired NBA shooting guard Dwyane Wade spent 15 seasons with the Miami Heat, winning the franchise's first championship in 2006 under then-head coach Pat Riley and two more titles when the coach turned executive. With that said, could current Heat big man Bam Adebayo turn into a potential franchise cornerstone like Wade?
Riley himself thinks so.
Per Ira Winderman in the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
“I’ve never met a man like this, a player, who was so respectful, had so much dignity, was such a team guy, that has grown to a point where he wants this responsibility,” the Heat president said of Bam Adebayo, who was in the midst of a breakout season before the NBA’s March 11 shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“He reminds me a lot of Dwyane, in Dwyane’s attitude. Dwyane came in, he was a no-nonsense guy. He went right to work. And he became a great player. And he had an attitude and a competitiveness and a killer instinct, besides the talent. But he had this attitude that was above and beyond.
“I think that's what Bam is. Bam possesses this attitude about doing it the right way and doing it every day.”
Adebayo, a 22-year-old first-time All-Star for the Heat in 2020, was selected by the South Beach organization with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft out of the University of Kentucky.
In 2019-20, prior to the NBA hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Adebayo stepped up as a leader in the frontcourt for the Heat, leading the team in rebounding with 10.5. He is also second in the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game and assists with 5.1 dimes.
While Bam Adebayo has a long way to go to be considered a franchise icon like the 13-time All-Star and three-time champion Wade is, Pat Riley's stamp of approval is surely indicative of the power forward's potential impact on the Heat.